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LPI photographer Tim Barker exposes the usefulness of plastic bags on the road

January 20, 2011

A young boy works in a rice paddie near Kumakhali village on the Padma River near Kushtia, Bangladesh.

Name: Tim Barker

Country: Australia, but based in London

What equipment do you use:

  • Canon 1Ds MK II
  • Canon 16-35mm F2.8
  • Canon 24-70mm F2.8
  • Canon 70-200mm F2.8 IS
  • Canon 50mm F1.4
  • Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro
  • Canon 580 EX Speedlite

I use a Gitzo Explorer G2228 tripod and I always a couple of polarisers on me.   To even out the load I carry the lenses on my waist in LowePro lens pouches and the tripod on my back in a LowePro Rover AWII camera bag.  Sensor cleaning equipment is also really important and in most cases I get away with using a combination of a blower brush and an Arctic Butterfly 724 sensor brush.  I also travel with a laptop and I back up to portable hard drives, one of which is always in my pocket and the other which is always kept back at my hotel.

How much time do you spend travelling for photography: In 2009 I spent almost the entire year on the road, in 2010 that was cut back to only a few months so I could get through my editing.  It will change year to year I am sure but ideally I’d would like to devote at least 3 months per year to a mixture of stock, commissioned and personal projects.

Favourite photography subject: I enjoy taking environmental portraits the most and I absolutely love when I am invited into someone’s life just because I have a camera around my neck.

Most photographic country:  Bangladesh because it is extremely colourful and also because the people absolutely love to be photographed.

The best photo you’ve taken: My favourite photo was taken in Rangpur, Bangladesh, I woke early and arrived at the market as it was starting up for the day.  The sun was rising and in certain parts of the dusty market shards of beautiful light were shining through the roof.  I found a perfect spot where I wanted to take a shot but as it happens in Bangladesh I was quickly mobbed by too many people wanting to have their photo taken and ruining my composition.  I took some frames to work out my exposure and then I walked off.  A few minutes later I tried again and this time as I was photographing a subject in the backlit scenario someone walked past wearing a white t-shirt and for a split second my subject was lit up beautifully.  I ran off once more and bought a large white shopping bag to use as a reflector, I then returned and asked two young boys to pose and a bystander to hold my makeshift reflector.  I managed about three frames before the boys’ father came and dragged them back to work but the composition and lighting was perfect and I was really happy with the shot.  The makeshift reflector has remained in the pocket of my camera bag ever since.

What first got you interested in photography : I took an elective in photography during high school and after my first dark room session I was hooked.

What was your first big break:  There are a couple of moments but being accepted into the RMIT BA Photography course in Melbourne (Australia) was probably the first as the students I studied alongside and lecturers that taught me (including LPI photographers John Hay, Orien Harvey, Viviane Ponti and Richard Kendall) were incredibly inspiring.  I’ve also won a few competitions including Sydney Life in 2005 and in 2010 I was the runner up in the one shot category in the Travel Photographer of the Year awards.

Tips for budding photographers:  I think it is important to become really self critical, unsharp, blurry or poorly cropped images should be abandoned regardless of how good they could have been.  It is also important to really know your gear and to also to understand your limits so as to avoid these problems.  I for example try not shoot hand-held at under 1/160th of a second and therefore in low light I resort to bumping the ISO up to around 400 ISO or using my faster 50mm F1.4 lens.  I also try and to carry my tripod when practical so that I can use it when I need too (sometimes even with one leg down as a monopod) and when I do use it I also maximise its effect by using a remote switch and turning on the mirror lock up function on my camera.

Tips for taking photos:  Spend time on your subjects, look at the way the shadows are falling and work out what time of day would be best to photograph it, don’t be afraid to come back again at another time or on another day if the light is not right and if you are trying to take advantage of the morning light, get up early and be in your location before it starts to get light.

Next assignment :  I’ve recently moved to London and whilst I’d much rather be jetting off somewhere exotic I think it is important to take advantage of my location and get some great shots here before the Olympics rolls around in 2012.

Check out Tim’s website.

See his LPI gallery.

Compose images like Tim’s.

Get your submission to Lonely Planet Images.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2011 9:50 am

    Ha, this is actually a great tip. I’ve carried a plastic bag around for years in my camera bag, but only to protect it from the rain. I think I better change it to a white one soon!

    Currently I carry a cheap white plastic plate for food photos which is often better than the “highly” decorated one’s you see in many local eateries.


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